Among the N.M. lawmakers targeted in the shootings was a county commissioner
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Among the lawmakers targeted in these shootings was Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa, who's on the line from New Mexico. Welcome.
ADRIANN BARBOA: Hello. Thank you.
INSKEEP: What was your experience with Solomon Pena?
BARBOA: Oh, man. You know, right after the - I was serving as chair of the commission last year. And so we saw the increase, before and after the election, of, you know, folks coming to tell us that the election was fraudulent...
BARBOA: ...And demanding that we don't certify it because the county commission is responsible. And, you know, he had done that. But he also came to my home and to the home of other commissioners and, you know, was pretty aggressive. I didn't feel totally threatened at the time. I believe in public discourse. And that - I love that in New Mexico, our elected - you can talk directly to our elected. So I listened to him.
BARBOA: But, yeah, to learn that - you know, on December 4, I came home from buying Christmas lights and my house had shot up - been shot up.
INSKEEP: Whoa. So the first time he comes, he's just on your porch or something? And you're just talking. And he's complaining. But it's just a conversation.
BARBOA: It's just a conversation. He sounds a little erratic to me. But I just listen, you know? He's coming as a constituent.
INSKEEP: And you said you came home later to discover your house had been shot up. Just lay it out here. How did you know that?
BARBOA: Yeah, just not the same day, right? He came right after elections, before we certified the elections. And then on December 4 is when I came home from shopping for Christmas lights. And I had shots through my front door, through my house, through my living room, right where I had just hours before been playing with my grandbaby.
INSKEEP: Had anybody been home at the time?
BARBOA: No. Thankfully, nobody was home. And nobody was physically hurt in any of these buildings.
INSKEEP: Now, needless to say, more than a month passed between your experience with the shooting and the arrest. Over the last several weeks, did you think to yourself, this shooting was in some way political?
BARBOA: The entire time. As soon as it happened. I live in the home that I grew up in, that I got to raise my kids in. And I don't - you know, I knew that this had to be because of my service. And that was my first thought. So you know, that's the most tensest part we had seen lately was election deniers.
INSKEEP: Well, let me ask a tricky question here - seems simple at first. And the question is, who do you blame? I mean, there's the suspect. If he's guilty, of course, you would blame him. But do you also blame people who have propagated these falsehoods all across the country?
BARBOA: I do. You know, some of our highest elected officials are - still invoke violence through the words they use, through their actions and through their denial. And we, as elected officials, have a responsibility. People elect us, look to us to make decisions and look to our words. And, yes, I do know that that impacts this action. And nobody can be responsible for that. His actions were his. But when our highest level of government are - continue to make threats and violence a regular part of our public discourse, that impacts our democracy and, obviously, our lives.
INSKEEP: Should somebody else be arrested for an act like this, besides the people who pulled the trigger?
BARBOA: I mean, I don't know about arrest. But I know there should be accountability. I think we have to think in the larger public discourse and stop polarizing these issues around gun violence and, you know, public safety.
INSKEEP: How do you feel now that Mr. Pena is in custody?
BARBOA: There's a sense of relief. I think I'm still in and out of shock that this happened, the trauma it's caused on my home and my family, even though we weren't physically hurt. And I just think about my neighbors, loved ones that go through this and violence all the time.
INSKEEP: I'm just thinking, you said there were shots through the door.
BARBOA: Through my front door.
INSKEEP: I guess you must have fixed it by now. Can you still see where it was?
BARBOA: Oh, yeah. You can still see when - you know, through my front door, out my back sliding door. So we have things to repair until we can replace that. But, no, our home is still need of repair from the damage.
INSKEEP: Very briefly, how has the community responded to this?
BARBOA: Well, they are - you know, our community comes together. And I've gotten a lot of support. We've had a lot of, you know, good support from law enforcement. But people are devastated and worried. Today - yesterday started our legislature. So I think there's also just a great sense of relief that this person's been caught.
INSKEEP: Would you tell other people to run for office, given your experience?
BARBOA: Definitely. This impacts - we need representation. And if we are intimidated by this, then that decreases the representation we have in our elected officials.
INSKEEP: Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa in New Mexico. Thanks so much for your time, really appreciate it.
BARBOA: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.